Monday, June 21, 2010

OMG a Recipe: Blissed Out on Burgers

It began with a hamburger bun. I came to the agreement with myself that if I'm really craving some bready goodness, I can have it as long as I make it myself. That's fair, right? I can buy hamburger buns from the store easily enough, but I thought, I've got the time, the bread hook attachment for our almighty Kitchen Aid mixer, so no excuses Ms. Wasabi -- get to work! So I made it a point to not only make the buns, but also give the burger the royal treatment and make it feel as kingly as possible before I blissed out on burgers. Large patties of meat were seasoned, stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, and topped with pickled onions, provolone cheese, and Maui sweet onion mustard before being nestled between toasted home-baked buns. I did it My Way - extra cheese.

Burgers with an arterial vein of gorgonzola cheese - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Buns, buns, buns! So much room for naughty jokes. The recipe I have to offer isn't even mine, it's thanks to Epicurious and their dutiful collection of recipes from Gourmet, which is where this hamburger bun came from. I liked this recipe in particular as it's got a nice sturdy texture, but has an eggy, slightly sweet brioche flavor. It didn't ask for sesame seeds, but I added them right before baking, stuck on the egg/milk wash. I made the same recipe again a few days later, minus the sesame seeds and it was fine and less messy without the seeds falling everywhere. But the sesame seeds do add a visual bit of authenticity, no?

I had a couple of little cippolini red onions from the farmers market and I could have cooked with them, but they were so adorable, I wanted to use them in a way that would celebrate their cuteness. Somehow pickling them seemed like the right choice, although you wouldn't know they were cute cippolinis once they were sliced thin and set in the brine. Well, the intent was there, right? I shot from the hip on the brine -- when UnRecipes Attack! I took some white wine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns and sugar, and simmered the whole thing on the stove for a bit before pouring over the onion slices. I drained off a jar of cocktail pearl onions and used the rest of this sweet/sour mustard brine to change the flavor of those onions as well. Gads, those cocktail onions are strong, even for a mean martini -- the new brine helped those little guys change their tune and not cause faces to contort in disfigured pain every time you bit into one.

But what about the burger, Wasabi? Jeeze, this is supposed to be a hamburger post, after all! I have to say when I make burgers at home, the ground beef is just a vessel for other flavors. I've made burgers seasoned heavily with fresh rosemary, lemon zest and pepper for a fresh tasting patty, and lately I've taken to shoving scraps of cheese in the center for a little surprise. And by 'surprise,' I don't mean e coli, so when adding something extra to the burger centers, you should probably cook it well-done versus medium. I chose a chunk of gorgonzola cheese because it's so good with beef and I fell into the snare of bulk buying at Costco and wound up with a kingly wedge of the stuff and it's being used liberally in a lot of the dinners lately. But as Wallace from Wallace and Gromit would say, "I do love a good gorgonzola!"

As for the toppings -- why provolone and Maui sweet onion mustard? Because I had them handy, simple as that. Any combination of condiments and toppings would work well with a fancy burger, but I think the best mix of flavors are ones that balance sweet, savory and sour. Personally I'm not a fan of ketchup on burgers. Fries, yes. But I think that corn syrup sweetness is just too strong for hamburgers and kind of cheapens it as a whole. If you're going to go through the trouble of making the buns from scratch and making cheese-stuffed burgers, honor your own efforts by making sure the flavors are balanced. I can honestly say, the extra steps are totally worth it. You really feel like you're giving yourself an extra special treat and it's defnitely made me feel more confident about not being a total spaz when it comes to baking bread. As GI Joe would say, Knowing is Half the Battle.

A bit fussy, but totally worth it. Yes, that burger is bleeding cheese - Photos by Wasabi Prime

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  1. Yuuummm--shoving things into burger centers has never looked tastier!

  2. I'm also a firm believer in the idea that if I'm going to have a burger, I'd best be making my own buns. These are totally going to be my next burger bun creation!


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